About David Hirzel

David Hirzel landed at Sky Ranch overlooking Pacifica, California at the end of 30 years of wandering that started in West Virginia, with extended stops in Florida, Virginia, Lake Tahoe and various points between. In the course of time he has published numerous poems, stories and articles, two plays and an online audiodrama at , but his true calling has always been the history of polar exploration in the “heroic” age. The fascination began with a first reading of Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage in 1961, and never ended.

One result has been the book Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice, a labor of love that started in 1995 and hasn’t ended yet. Two more books are due in the series, covering Crean’s early days in Scott’s first expedition, and his triumph against all odds in Shackleton’s “Endurance” expedition. He lives at Sky Ranch with the cat Bellerophon (named for the ship of the line in Nelson’s navy), watching the whales and the Pacific sunsets.



• B.A. in English from Marshall University 1974.
• Undergraduate architectural design courses @ West Valley College, Saratoga CA 1986-1989
• Continuing education (AIA accredited courses) in building energy efficiency.

http://www.davidhirzelnet:  “David Hirzel, Wordwright” (blog)
http://www.antarctic-discovery.com:  “Antarctic Discovery” (blog)
http://www.davidhirzel.com:  “David Hirzel Building Design” (business website)
http://www.davidhirzel.info:  “David Hirzel Green Building Design” (blog)

Sailor on Ice: Tom Crean with Scott in the Antarctic 1910-1913. Terra Nova Press, Pacifica CA 2011
Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice  podcast audiodrama Episodes One and Two (of ten, covering the sixteen years of his Antarctic explorations) now available online at: “Sea Sonnets” poetry chapbook October 2009
• Technical articles relating to building energy efficiency in San Francisco Bay Area newspapers
• Short story Lemon’s First Morning in Sand Hill Review Spring 2010
• Numerous poetry publications in US literary journals 1983-2011
• One-act plays Francis and Sophy and Candle, Rose produced at Dominican University (San Rafael CA) Fringe Festival Fall 2010 and Spring 2011. Chance Encounter accepted for production Spring 2012/

• “Maritime History of Coastal San Mateo County,” Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association, Montara CA April 2005; Pacifica Historical Society March 21, 2010
• “Living History in Maritime Heritage Parks: An Overview of Possibilities,” Eighth Maritime Heritage Conference, San Diego CA October 2007
• “Tom Crean: Sailor on Ice,” for Klebingat Lecture Series, J.P. Shaw Maritime Library San Francisco, May 8, 2010
• “Sailors on Ice: Leaders and Followers,” California Maritime Academy, Vallejo CA, December 15, 2011

Public Service:
• Volunteer General Coordinator of the Living History Docent Program at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park since 2005, member since 1996. George B. Hartzong Jr. Award (National Park Service). Visit our website at http://www.hydestreetlivinghistory.org
• Co-chair Steering Committee for the CWC/San Mateo County Fair Fine Arts Stage June 11-19, 2011
• City of Pacifica CA Green Building Ordinance Citizen Task Force

Society memberships include:
• Tom Crean Society
• National Maritime Historical Society
• Hakluyt Society
• Tom Crean Society
• Golden Gate Tall Ships Society
• Tall Ships America (formerly American Sail Training Association)

I have by avocation made a lifelong study of the first-person and other accounts of the “heroic age” of Antarctic exploration, starting with Lansing’s Shackleton’s Valiant Voyage in 1961. It wasn’t until 1994 that I noticed that Tom Crean’s name came up in many of them, and in the most interesting of circumstances. Since no book had at that time been written about him, it seemed appropriate to begin one.

In an effort to give a more intimate realism to the writing, I joined the topsail demonstration crew and the Living History program at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in 1997. In that capacity I began a second career as lecturer and maritime historian. I assumed leadership of the Living History program in 2005, and since then have more than doubled its size and been nominated by the National Park Service for the prestigious 2007 George Hartzog Award for volunteer service. I have spent time as a volunteer crewman on the tall ships Surprise (of the movie Master and Commander fame) and the Irving Johnson, as well as longer cruises onboard the Robert C. Seamans and the Bounty.


2 thoughts on “About David Hirzel

  1. David, Glad you have joined the Institute for Historical Study. Hope you will share ideas for possible joint programs. Regards, Rob

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